How Humans Evolved Allergies

Posted on June 17, 2008  Comments (1)

Ancient antibody molecule offers clues to how humans evolved allergies

The chicken molecule, an antibody called IgY, looks remarkably similar to the human antibody IgE. IgE is known to be involved in allergic reactions and humans also have a counterpart antibody called IgG that helps to destroy invading viruses and bacteria. Scientists know that both IgE and IgG were present in mammals around 160 million years ago because the corresponding genes are found in the recently published platypus genome. However, in chickens there is no equivalent to IgG and so IgY performs both functions.

Lead researcher, Dr. Rosy Calvert said: “Although these antibodies all started from a common ancestor, for some reason humans have ended up with two rather specialised antibodies, whereas chickens only have one that has a much more general function.

Professor Brian Sutton, head of the laboratory where the work was done said: “It might be that there was a nasty bug or parasite around at the time that meant that humans needed a really dramatic immune response and so there was pressure to evolve a tight binding antibody like IgE. The problem is that now we’ve ended up with an antibody that can tend to be a little over enthusiastic and causes us problems with apparently innocuous substances like pollen and peanuts, which can cause life-threatening allergic conditions.”

Related: Parasitic Worms Reduce Hay Fever SymptomsUnderstanding the Evolution of Human Beings by CountryHypoallergenic Cats

One Response to “How Humans Evolved Allergies”

  1. Anonymous
    November 11th, 2008 @ 11:56 am

    Hey let me tell you something, when I was a kid around 7 o 8 years old, I used to be allergic to cats, I really loved them but I can’t even see them, If a cat was close to me even if I didn’t noticed it, in two minutes I started to feel like the air was missing to me, and my face was red, and sneezing. One they when I turned 15 that allergy was over, now I can kiss a cat and nothing happens. I don’t know why, what could happened? Can anyone explain me?

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